Monday, June 6, 2016

Fontana Days Run Half Marathon Race Recap

What did you do last weekend?! Oh, I just had the most EPIC WEEKEND EVER (okay, maybe not ever ever, but it is definitely in my top 10)! This past weekend was our #Fontana2SD challenge and instead of overwhelming you with a billion and a half selfies and a novel to read I figured I should probably break up the weekend into at least two posts.

But, hey, let's not get ahead of ourselves and jump right into the race recap without at least mentioning our Friday shenanigans... You see, I have some AMAZING friends... One of which happens to be on a sitcom... So when it worked out that they would be doing a live taping the day before the Fontana Days Run Half Marathon and some of us would be in town we HAD to head over to be in the audience, right?!

But first I had to sit in some LA traffic to get up there... 

My accessories were ON POINT if I do say so myself... 

Stopped at Griffith Park for some pretty views (and to stretch
my legs) before continuing through to LA LA Land!

Andrea (you may know her as Kimmy Gibbler on Full House and the new Fuller House) was able to get a few of us on the list for the taping on Friday and we all jumped at the opportunity! It was fabulous to see her working in her element (holy talent!), to experience a live taping of a show and to hang out and meet everyone.

Elias is a STUD! He's eight years old and I swear steals the show in most episodes!

While Andrea was signing autographs, we were doing a little exploring...

Technically you aren't allowed to have cameras or cell phones when you enter the sound stage so we don't have many pictures for the 5+ hour event, but we HAD to at least get a little documentation, right?! It was a BLAST and if you haven't watched the first season of Fuller House yet, head to Netflix to binge NOW! Season 2 is currently in the works!

Everywhere you look...

And this is the original couch! 

Well, although we had to be at the Warner Brothers Studio by 2:45pm for the 4pm taping, we didn't actually leave the set until after 9pm. Linzie was kind enough to offer up his couch for me to crash on since he is the mayor of Fontana lives about 3 miles from the finish line of the race. Katie was also joining the slumber party (I was actually the party crasher, but at least I brought wine as a thank you, right?!) so we made it to Casa de Sharpie around 10pm. After hanging out a little longer and snuggling with the pets it was time to hit the hay.

Like I mentioned in my vlog about my Eagle Creek gear a couple weeks ago,
the Pack-It Sport™line truly makes packing (especially for a race) a BREEZE!

In total I laid down for about 5 hours but probably got a decent 
two hours of sleep... But hey, you can sleep when you're dead!

Oh, I don't know how I forgot to mention it before now, but SoCal was expecting a minor MAJOR heat wave. While Texas seems to be getting pounded with rain, Southern California is getting all of the HOT! They were calling for triple digit temps for the weekend and Mother Nature did not disappoint... Although I was hoping to race Fontana for a great time we all knew in the back of our minds that we would need to readjust our expectations and survive the weather (especially with another half marathon less than 24 hours later). A PR is not worth risking your health!

On Thursday they were already predicting triple digits... 

I need to be completely honest here (hopefully you all know by know that I've always gotta #KeepItReal)... Between mid-February and April (within a 10 week span) I ran 3 full marathons {along with a 5K, half marathon and an ultra Ragnar thrown in for good measure}. During that time I was NOT working on speed but on staying injury-free and surviving the craziness. Once those fulls were out of the way I was able to start thinking about running Fontana for a decent finish time, but also didn't have a ton of training before the race arrived. I think I was able to get in maybe 3 or 4 track workouts (oh, Yasso 800s, why are you such butt kickers?!). It was not ideal, especially for a PR attempt, but it was what I had to work with. I made some big goals (Goal A: Sub-1:40, Goal B: Sub-1:44 {my PR}, Goal C: Finish with a smile and enough gas in the tank for #RnRSD) even with sub-par training and made them public for the world to see. It is scary to put yourself out there (not only to try and give a race everything you've got but also to tell the world what expectations they should have for you and what bar you'd like to reach), but I've heard the magic happens outside of your comfort zone, so why not go for it?!

#FlatCarlee was RTG {ready to go}! A #WeRunSocial tank, Sparkle Athletic
, PRO Compression socks (Two Pair Don't Care BABY!), Handful sports bra,
Brooks Ghost, Garmin Forerunner 220, QALO Wedding Bands, Road ID,
Momentum wraps and a Sparkly Soul reflective headband!

With Linzie only living a few miles away from the finish line (also where we were able to pick up our bibs and catch the bus to the starting line), we didn't have to leave his house till about 4:45am. When we walked out to the cars we knew it was going to be a hot race (it was already in the 70s when the sun started coming up - OUCH!). I decided that even if I didn't hit my goal time, I still wanted to give the race my all (I am the first one to admit I will take the "easy" way out when it comes to racing and use any excuse I can to not race and just run a course "for fun"... mostly because I can't fail if I don't really try, so even though the heat would have been a decent enough excuse to pull back I didn't allow myself to take it {and that, in and of itself, is a HUGE success in my books}).


There was a decent sized crew doing #Fontana2SD, so we made sure to all meet up and snap a couple shots before heading up the hill to the start. We decided we would rock a red and black theme and I've gotta say, I LOVED IT! We looked like a non-threatening gang walking around, HA!

You know the #WeRunSocial crew has got to #KeepItTight, right?!

The gang was almost all here!

Once we heard the final call for the buses we meandered over to the line and made the 20ish minute trek to the starting area (which seemed to be a campground, but I don't remember any signs so who knows if it was a legit campground or just where some vagabonds set up their tents). The port-o-potty lines were long so once we got off the bus the crew headed to the bathrooms for one final stop before the first leg of our adventure truly was set to begin.

Running brings some AMAZING people into your life and I am BEYOND BLESSED to know these folks!

This crew knows how to #BeatYesterday and they do it with the help of their Garmins!

Michael, who sort of sold us all on this whole #Fontana2SD ordeal, explained Fontana Days Run to me last year before I registered. He said it was a "no frills" race. You don't register for beautiful bling, amazing scenery, tons of spectators or constant entertainment. You run Fontana Days Run for a fast finish time. And just like he said, the race was definitely no real luxuries. When 7:30am rolled around there was an air horn and a timing mat you ran over... No National Anthem, no starting line with tons of fan fair, just some runners looking to run fast.

Twinning is winning!

Casey, Andrea and I at the starting area

With my A Goal to be Sub-1:40, I knew I needed to run an average pace of 7:38/mile or faster (which would get me right at 1:39:59). The first 7 miles of the course or so are a gradual downhill and then it flattens out a bit. I figured I'd try and take advantage of the downhill and let gravity pull me along. Also, with the temperatures quickly rising I knew I needed to try and run faster while it was as cool as possible because once the heat was in full effect it would slow me majorly.


I actually set an un-official 10K PR during the race, hitting 6.2 miles at 45:45 on my Garmin (which averaged to a 7:22/mile pace). I figured I would have positive splits with the course flattening out and the temperatures hitting in the 80s by mile 8 but I was okay with that. I had to take what my body and the course gave me on June 3rd and just try to do my very best with whatever I had to work with.

Well, as you know, it was HOT! The pre-race communications that we received said that they would be taking extra precautions due to the weather, but even still I decided I would run with my NATHAN handheld (not only for the water but also so I could hold my phone, some PROBAR BOLT chews and my car key). I am so glad I did because the water stations, especially for the heat, seemed to be a little sparse. I think there was one every 2ish miles (which is normally fine for a half, but with the heat it seemed like we could have done with 3 or 4 more). At every aid station I was taking one cup of water to pour over myself and one cup to drink from (and using my handheld between water stops). They did have cold, wet wash clothes on the course and they were LIFE SAVERS! Those two stops (one out of the back of a golf cart and another from a truck) felt like blessings from above! I ended up running with those towels the whole way (one in my IBG and one in my hand, wiping sweat and trying to do anything I could to keep myself from overheating).

With the elevation change (you lose about 2,000 feet over the course of the 13 miles), it was a little cooler at the start because it was earlier, still a bit in the shade and up higher. By mile 3 we were out of any reprieve from the surrounding hills and in the direct sun. By mile 8 it was literally feeling like an inferno (I know sometimes I can be a bit dramatic, but you MUST believe me here, it was like we were running on the sun... the heat was radiating up from the pavement, there was no shade or breeze and I honestly felt like my sweat was drying on my skin as soon as it appeared).

The elevation my Garmin pulled from my run

Like I had mentioned, I really wanted to give this race my all. I so often will pull back because I don't want to fail (even if "failing" simply means not hitting a goal I had set for myself) and wanted to see if I had the mental strength to push through even when my mind and body were telling me to take it easier.

There were many points where I wanted to slow down and pull back (more than what I did based on the rising temps and flattening course) but I would tell myself that the slower I went the longer I would be out on the course. The faster I finished the faster I could get some ice cold water and sit in the shade. Around mile 8 I started telling myself things like "five miles is a short run for you, you can do it" or "if you push here you have less than 40 minutes of running left" or "you can do anything for three miles". I know it may not seem like much to others, but with my mind so often going directly to the negative it was a feat in and of itself that I was able to stay positive in the conditions we were battling.

A little before mile 10 there were two race officials standing on the course. When I passed them they told me I was 13th female overall. Now the first thing I thought to myself was "wow, the fast ladies must have either pulled out when they saw the temps or the heat is effecting everyone terribly", as well as "those guys are probably really bad counters". Let's be real, I can never truly give myself kudos and celebrate my accomplishments so I have to find a reason why they aren't as good as they seem. Even still, I had never been far up enough in a race to be told what female place I was in. I could see a couple ladies in my view so figured why not shoot for top ten?!

Those last couple miles were tough. The water was warm, the temperatures were warmer and I was ready to be done. But I would see a female and think to myself that I could take it easier on my next run, but this one I didn't want to get to the finish line and think "what if I had given it more?".

I looked at my watch every once in a while during the race but didn't totally know how I was doing. And, honestly, I didn't 100% care. Sure a time faster than 1:40 would be awesome, but what I really wanted was to finish the race and know I gave it my all and had the mental strength to actually race a race no matter what the time or place I finished in. When I had about a half mile to go I checked my Garmin and knew I was going to PR but it was going to be close for a sub-1:40 (although I thought I was going to be a math major when I started college, doing math during a race has never been my strong suit). I would love to say I kicked it in, but I don't think my legs had much juice left. I truly felt like I was running through peanut butter at this point and the finish line was just out of reach. I finally got close enough to hear the announcer and saw a time on the clock that had a 3 in it and knew I did it! I threw up my arms and crossed the finish line with a HUGE smile on my face.

HUGE PROPS to Sandy for not only cheering us in at the end but also grabbing these two finishing shots!

Make sure to celebrate EVERY finish line!

I'm pretty sure I need either one or both of these finisher pictures... Just trying
to decide which one to spend my pretty pennies on...

Once I paused my Garmin I asked some spectators if they would snap a quick picture of me since I knew my hands would be too shaky to get anything in focus (I was in major need of some cold water and to start cooling down).

My official time was 1:38:38. I ended up picking off a few of the ladies who were ahead of me at mile 10 and finished as NINTH FEMALE OVERALL (and second in my age group)! I realize it was a smaller race, but I am going to revel in my accomplishments! I've actually only ever placed in my age group twice... And it happened to be on the exact same day one year apart (I came in 3rd in my age group at last year's #RnRSD 5K the day before #RnRSD), how fun is that?! 

Official results

Data from my Garmin

I hung around at the finish line for a bit, taking pictures and cheering in runners. Thankfully there was a little shade so I was able to start cooling down a bit, even if when I left the race before 10am it was already 96*.

This is the face of a runner who just PR'ed by over SIX MINUTES!

These guys... I don't have the words... They are ROCKSTARS!

Pammy is AMAZING! She finished FIFTH FEMALE!

Jen is a ROCKSTAR! She just finished a 100-miler the weekend prior and was
pacing for #RnRSD the following morning! 

I decided to head out fairly quickly because I still had to head home and shower before then driving down to San Diego for the RnRSD Expo so that I could grab my bib. And apparently I left just in time because shortly after I made it through Temecula a wildfire broke out and closed the 15 Freeway for a few hours (they even kept the RnRSD expo open for an extra hour or two due to the fire and road closure).

Some of us PRO Compression Ambassadors at the PRO booth

You KNOW I have ALWAYS gotta #RunHappy!

As far as the race and my thoughts, I think they are similar to what I was originally told about the race when I was looking to sign up. It is definitely a no-frills sort of race. You are really only signing up because you want to race a fast time (or because some crazy crew has talked you into a #Fontana2SD challenge). But with that being said, there aren't a ton of races I sign up for with the intention to race for a specific time, so I think if I am in search of a new PR next year I will definitely sign up again... And pray that Mother Nature isn't having a heat flash... PS The cost of registration was under $50 when I signed up, so you can't expect a ton for that price, but even still we got a decent loot and a closed course (and I ran away with a 6ish minute PR) so you can't be mad on that!

We got a tech tee (unisex), medal, pin and running belt/ fanny pack!

Where is your current half marathon PR?


Unknown said...

Congrats on the PR! Mine is 1:46 but it was a complete downhill race. I would love to count it but honestly my other times don't even come close. That day all the stars just aligned.

Unknown said...

Sign up for next year and hopefully I'll be there this time! This year's shirts are cute!

And yes, it's a legit campground. :))) WAY TO GO ROCKSTAR!

Unknown said...

Congrats, Carlee!! That is such an awesome time!!! :) I hope you're catching up on sleep now.

Tracy said...

CONGRATS CARLEE! Super proud of you! My half-marathon PR is...I have no half-marathon PR. This girl just rocks the 5K scene on the Jersey Shore. Planning on my own mini challenge of two 5K's in one day in August though! Hey, it's a start. ;-)

KookyRunner said...

Super congrats on your PR, especially in that heat!

Bree at Clarity Defined said...

I was SO thrilled for you when I saw your Instagram and couldn't wait for this recap! Congrats Carlee!!! That's incredible! I'm slow and my half PR is just seconds over an hour slower than yours, haha. I was excited to PR at Princess though and am hoping and training to PR again at least one more time this year.

Anonymous said...

Way to get a PR on a crazy hot day! You should be very proud of yourself and excited to share it with the world :) I love reading your blog posts and race recaps - keep inspiring!!

Unknown said...

Yay!! I'm SO proud of you!! What an exciting couple of days for you full of friends and fun. Sounds like a good race for me. I like smaller races because I do not like crowds at all. My half PR is 141,142,143??? Do you believe I don't even know! I should look it up. Hahahaha!! I am one of those people who doesn't put too much thought into PR's because courses are different as are the conditions. That's just my belief for my personal times. Keep on running happy my friend! Hugs!

Unknown said...

Seriously -- so so so awesome Carley! Bask in the glow, you are a bad a**!

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table said...

Small race or no - that's an AMAZING pace! Way to go... in that heat too!